Thursday 16 March 2017

Chain (Fe)Males

In this, the first of several related articles, we’re going to look at a group of female politicians from the lgbt community who have held the office of mayor. The title of this article refers to the chain of office that many of the office holders wear, and a play on the term chain-mail. The chain of office usually bears a badge of the coat of arms or seal of the town, city or municipality concerned.

There was a time in England when certain mayors had an automatic seat in parliament. My own direct ancestor John Tansley, twice Mayor of Nottingham (1399 and 1410), was one of them. Today the opposite is the case. No mayor can sit in parliament during his term of office.

The LGBTQ Representation and Rights Research Initiative, which I referred to in an article last moth, lists a small number of mayors. I’ve been looking around for more and even though I don’t admit to having an authoritative list I have found over 150 lgbt mayors from around the world, past and present. Not all of them were openly lgbt when in office. Not all mayors are publicly elected to office but are elected by their fellow council members. For inclusion on the list the office holder must be referred to officially as mayor, deputy mayor, vice-mayor or interim mayor. Some municipal officers are the effective equivalent of mayor but I have not listed these for the time being.

Below is an infographic showing the locations of the 29 female lgbt mayors. Names are listed underneath.

Several statistics stand out immediately. Firstly, there have no female mayor, as far as I have found, in Africa, not even in South Africa. Secondly, all the female mayors in Asia have been members of the hijra community, the Third Gender community. I may return to hijra mayors and elected representatives in the future. Thirdly, the municipality of Chapinero in Bogota, Colombia, has had two consecutive lesbian mayors. There have been 8 female transgender mayors in addition to the 3 hijra. There is one openly intersex mayor, Tony Briffa, who identifies as female.

The earliest known female lgbt mayor was Charlotte Whitton (1896-1975), Mayor of Ottawa, Canada, from 1951-1954. She did not disclose her sexuality in her lifetime but was surmised from letters she wrote to the woman she lived with for many years, Margaret Grier.

The first openly lesbian women elected as mayor was Valerie Terringo. She became the first ever Mayor of West Hollywood following the creation of that municipality in 1984. She was selected by the fellow first West Hollywood councillors and held office for one year.

One woman, Jenny Rowan has been elected mayor in two councils - Inglewood and Kapiti Coast.

Janet Mabley (b.1955), Deputy Mayor of Richmond Hill, Ontario, 1997-2000.
Charlotte Whitton (1896-1975), Mayor of Ottawa, 1951-1956.

Jaci Taylor (b.1945), Mayor of Aberystwyth, Wales, 2000-2001.
Jenny Bailey (b.1962), Mayor of Cambridge, 2007-2008.
Christine Root, Mayor of Horwich 2013-4.

Corine Mauch (b.1960), Mayor of Zurich since 2009.

Kajsa Ollongren (b.1967), Deputy Mayor of Amsterdam since 2015.
Elizabeth Schmitz (b.1938), Mayor of Haarlem 1985-1994.
Ien Dales (1931-1994), Mayor of Nijmegen 1987-1989.

Kamla Jaan (b.1954), Mayor of Katni 2000-2003.
Madhu Kinnar (b.1979), Mayor of Raigarh since 2015.
Kamla Kinnar (b.1954), Mayor of Sagar 2009-2011.

Georgina Beyer (b.1957), Mayor of Carterton District 1995-1997.
Jenny Rowan (b.1954), Mayor of Inglewood 1986-9, Mayor of Kapiti Coast 2008-12.

Helen Westwood, Mayor of Bankstown 2002-2006.
Tony Briffa (b.1971), Mayor of Hodson’s Bay 2011-2011.
Janet Rice (b.1960), Mayor of Maribyrnong since 2008.

Kátia Tapety (b.1949), Vice Mayor of Colonía do Piaul 2004-2012.

Angélica Lozano Correa (b.1975), Mayor of Chapinero 2005-2008.
Bianca Durán Hernández (b.1971), Mayor of Chapinero 2008-2012.
E. Denise Simmons, Mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts 2008-2009 & since 2016.
Annise Parker (b.1956), Mayor of Houston, Texas, 2010-2016.
Gina Genovese (b.1959), Mayor of Long Hill Township, New Jersey 2006-2007.
Jess Herbst, Mayor of New Hope, Collin County, Texas since 2016.
Karen Geraghty, Mayor of Portland, Maine 2001-2002.
Jackie Biskupski (b.1966), Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah since 2016.
Toni Atkins (b.1962), Interim Mayor of San Diego, California 2005.
Stu Rasmussen (b.1948), Mayor of Silverton, Oregon 2009-2015.
Valerie Terringo (b.1954), Mayor of West Hollywood, California 1984-1985.

In future companion articles I will write about male mayors and Lord Mayors.

UPDATED 29 April 2017

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